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  1. #1
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Tell me about your 3 Speed Fixed Gear Bikes

    I've been riding fixed for 3 years. This past year I road Cycle North Carolina. This starts in the mountains and ends on the coast after about 500 miles. I used a flip-flop with 2 available gear ratios and did fine. The worst parts were the long decents on days 1 and 2 and the unrelenting 15 mph headwinds toward the end.

    But around home I am surrounded by elevation changes that are 1/2 mile long, give or take, and 200 feet, give or take. The problem is that the climbs are pitchy. It is not unusual for them to kick up to 15-20% in spots, and when that happens I just can't make it. So, I have to pick routes around climbs I can make.

    Is the S3X my answer?

  2. #2
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like Cycle North Carolina is the type of ride I'd want to take a fixie on, gears or no gears. Kudos to you for even trying it.
    The S3X does not have a large range, only 160% compared to 177% for the traditional 3 speed, so I don't know if it would make enough difference on a ride like that to be worth it.
    However, for the teeny hills I do around here, the S3X makes the difference for me. I don't think I'd want a single speed fixie now.
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  3. #3
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    I was hoping maybe it might be just enough to add a few more climbs which will open up more route options and more 50+ mile rides. Some folks with GPS said we did almost 5000 ft of climbing in the 70-mile day 1 of CNC. I've done a 3000+ ft fixed century so in my estimation I doubt if day 1 was much over 3000 ft. It certainly did not have the extreme pitches that are around here. I used a 45x18.

    Normally I use a 45 x 17 around here and don't notice a huge difference in it and the 18t when it comes to my ability to get up these climbs.

    If I understand it correctly, if I ran a 45 x 13 on the S3X I'd have gear inches of 58.4 (~45x20.8), 70.1 (45x17.3) and 93.5 (45x13).

  4. #4
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam83 View Post
    I was hoping maybe it might be just enough to add a few more climbs which will open up more route options and more 50+ mile rides. Some folks with GPS said we did almost 5000 ft of climbing in the 70-mile day 1 of CNC. I've done a 3000+ ft fixed century so in my estimation I doubt if day 1 was much over 3000 ft. It certainly did not have the extreme pitches that are around here. I used a 45x18.

    Normally I use a 45 x 17 around here and don't notice a huge difference in it and the 18t when it comes to my ability to get up these climbs.

    If I understand it correctly, if I ran a 45 x 13 on the S3X I'd have gear inches of 58.4 (~45x20.8), 70.1 (45x17.3) and 93.5 (45x13).
    93.5" is about right for 700x32c tires with your gearing. haven't got the calculator in my pocket right now to check your math on gear one and two.
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  5. #5
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    I also am interested in the 3 speed fixed... I did Ride the Rockies on a 18x17 in 2007--which included a 22 mile climb to the top of Independence Pass. I didn't really have a lot of trouble on the uphills--mostly a matter of pacing. The downhills, however, were terrible (that is why I have brakes ).
    I read a review, however of them failing (the 3 speed fixed hub) and the drawback of that is you revert to the highest gear. I like the idea of being able to have a good high gear for the downhills, and a more comfortable gear for the uphills. More information from people who have them would be great- I have been riding my fixie since 2004 and have around 24,000 miles on it. It is easily my most enjoyable ride.

    train safe-
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  6. #6
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    I also am interested in the 3 speed fixed... I did Ride the Rockies on a 18x17 in 2007--which included a 22 mile climb to the top of Independence Pass. I didn't really have a lot of trouble on the uphills--mostly a matter of pacing. The downhills, however, were terrible (that is why I have brakes ).
    I read a review, however of them failing (the 3 speed fixed hub) and the drawback of that is you revert to the highest gear. I like the idea of being able to have a good high gear for the downhills, and a more comfortable gear for the uphills. More information from people who have them would be great- I have been riding my fixie since 2004 and have around 24,000 miles on it. It is easily my most enjoyable ride.

    train safe-
    well, I don't do anything close to mountain riding with mine, so I can't make any recommendation in that regard. I haven't heard of any hub failures. Got any links to where you read about that?
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  7. #7
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    I like the idea of being able to have a good high gear for the downhills, and a more comfortable gear for the uphills.
    My thoughts as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    I read a review, however of them failing (the 3 speed fixed hub) and the drawback of that is you revert to the highest gear.
    That would really, really suck. 70 miles into a 15-20 mph headwind running a 45x17 was terrible. I cannot imagine finding myself 40 miles from home with only a 45x13!

    I guess a boyscout would just pack a lockring tool and a more appropriate broken hub cog.

  8. #8
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    ...and make sure you have at least a 1/2 inch spare dropout lenght to move the axle forward for the larger cog. Or have whatever it takes to make your chain a little longer.

  9. #9
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    well, I don't do anything close to mountain riding with mine, so I can't make any recommendation in that regard. I haven't heard of any hub failures. Got any links to where you read about that?
    http://www.amazon.com/Sturmey-Archer...owViewpoints=1

    this was a review on Amazon-- from a big rider, 6'3 and 230 pounds--he broke 2 of them. I am about 50 pounds lighter than he is, at 6' so I am not so worried about his problems with the hub, but still worried, as failure on one of these would be terrible--

    It would be great to be able to ride downhill faster than 28-30 mph (I have hit about 34 on the 48x17 and that was way too fast to be spinning and bouncing around on the saddle).

    I found some other reviews on google that were very informative, so the possibility of one of these in my future is pretty good.

    train safe-
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  10. #10
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam83 View Post
    The worst parts were the long descents
    To me the descents are the pleasurable reward when riding in the mountains. I'd stick to low gear one-speed and have a freewheel on the flip-flop.

    BTW: I love riding fixed on flats, rolling hills, or short steep hills.

  11. #11
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    http://www.amazon.com/Sturmey-Archer...owViewpoints=1

    this was a review on Amazon-- from a big rider, 6'3 and 230 pounds--he broke 2 of them. I am about 50 pounds lighter than he is, at 6' so I am not so worried about his problems with the hub, but still worried, as failure on one of these would be terrible--

    It would be great to be able to ride downhill faster than 28-30 mph (I have hit about 34 on the 48x17 and that was way too fast to be spinning and bouncing around on the saddle).

    I found some other reviews on google that were very informative, so the possibility of one of these in my future is pretty good.

    train safe-
    Ok, this is why I think big riders on big hills exceed the capacity of these hubs. You could probably torque all you wanted on it in 3rd gear and not hurt anything, but in gear one and two, you are torquing against one of the two sun gears coupled to the shaft. Which of the sun gears is coupled by the sliding key determines which gear it's in.
    I haven't been inside one yet, but since the ratios are the same as the bottom 3 gears of the wide range 5 speed, I assume the sun gear coupling mechanism is the same.
    The old ball lock type had it's problems enduring high torque input as well, although I've installed quite a few of those, and my wife and I have 2 of them between us and they have given no problems.
    From what I've read of the new sliding key engagement mechanism, which really is just an update on the old style that predated the ball lock type, people who live in hilly areas are experiencing failures. It's the sliding keys that are breaking or mushrooming.
    Might be a materials problem that Sturmey Archer needs to sort out.
    By the way, It's not really a difficult repair if it does fail in that way.
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  12. #12
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buelito View Post
    I read a review, however of them failing (the 3 speed fixed hub) and the drawback of that is you revert to the highest gear.
    The first couple production runs of the S3X had some problems, but these seem to have been long since resolved.

    The new ones are somewhat lighter than the first ones as well.

  13. #13
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    I haven't been inside one yet, but since the ratios are the same as the bottom 3 gears of the wide range 5 speed, I assume the sun gear coupling mechanism is the same.
    The old ball lock type had it's problems enduring high torque input as well, although I've installed quite a few of those, and my wife and I have 2 of them between us and they have given no problems.
    From what I've read of the new sliding key engagement mechanism, which really is just an update on the old style that predated the ball lock type, people who live in hilly areas are experiencing failures. It's the sliding keys that are breaking or mushrooming.
    Might be a materials problem that Sturmey Archer needs to sort out.
    By the way, It's not really a difficult repair if it does fail in that way.
    FWIW, the S3X uses a 3-planet design similar to that in the SW hubs that theoretically at least should share the load better than the 4-planet design used on most of their other hubs. The downside is that the planet cage is riveted together and thus must be replaced as a unit if it fails:


  14. #14
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    FWIW, the S3X uses a 3-planet design similar to that in the SW hubs that theoretically at least should share the load better than the 4-planet design used on most of their other hubs. The downside is that the planet cage is riveted together and thus must be replaced as a unit if it fails:
    The 5 speed hubs are a 3 planet design as well. The driver in your picture looks quite a bit different than the 5 speed, but of course it would because it does not require any mechanism for retracting the ring gear pawls which this hub does not have.
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  15. #15
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    If you ignor conventional wisdom , I suppose you could thread a fixed cog on that hub, no?

  16. #16
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    If I ever try fixed again, it will be w/ the Sturmey 3-speed.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  17. #17
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    I am building a new frame for myself that might be some type of fixed arrangement. I wonder about running two different cogs in back (something welded together) and two rings in the front for a bail out combo that could be accessed by moving the wheel and repositioning the chain to gain more leverage. This would ramp up the torque on the hub but at 52 and 170 lbs of "don't really care if I am pedaling that hard" it might work for me?
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  18. #18
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
    I am building a new frame for myself that might be some type of fixed arrangement. I wonder about running two different cogs in back (something welded together) and two rings in the front for a bail out combo that could be accessed by moving the wheel and repositioning the chain to gain more leverage. This would ramp up the torque on the hub but at 52 and 170 lbs of "don't really care if I am pedaling that hard" it might work for me?
    I haven't tried, but if you aren't too fussy about chain line, you might be able to fit 2 cogs with a spacer between.




    ( John D Thompson's photo)
    Last edited by Dan Burkhart; 02-08-12 at 12:24 PM.
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  19. #19
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam83 View Post
    If you ignor conventional wisdom , I suppose you could thread a fixed cog on that hub, no?
    Yes, you can. And if you use one of the splined spacers provided with the hub between the cog and the lockring, no torque can be transferred from the cog to the lockring, thus removing the "suicide hub" danger. Here's my S3X with a 15T Dura-Ace track cog installed:



    I used a steel bottom bracket lockring instead of the supplied aluminum lockring "just in case" because I knew I could tighten it better than the aluminum lockring.

  20. #20
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
    I am building a new frame for myself that might be some type of fixed arrangement. I wonder about running two different cogs in back (something welded together) and two rings in the front for a bail out combo that could be accessed by moving the wheel and repositioning the chain to gain more leverage. This would ramp up the torque on the hub but at 52 and 170 lbs of "don't really care if I am pedaling that hard" it might work for me?
    If you use the old style dished cogs, you can place them back to back on the driver. This was a quick 'n' dirty way of getting more gears on the old AW hubs, too. The modern cogs aren't dished, so you'd have to put a spacer between them to get some chain clearance.

  21. #21
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    I used a steel bottom bracket lockring instead of the supplied aluminum lockring "just in case" because I knew I could tighten it better than the aluminum lockring.
    Yeah, but think of the micrograms you could save with the aluminum ring.
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  22. #22
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftwelder View Post
    I am building a new frame for myself that might be some type of fixed arrangement. I wonder about running two different cogs in back (something welded together) and two rings in the front for a bail out combo that could be accessed by moving the wheel and repositioning the chain to gain more leverage. This would ramp up the torque on the hub but at 52 and 170 lbs of "don't really care if I am pedaling that hard" it might work for me?
    Something like this?

    http://surlybikes.com/parts/dingle_cog

  23. #23
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam83 View Post
    Yes, I like the DIY method if I can get away with it. Thanks for the link!
    1886 Surrey machinists Invincible, 1900 Nashua, 1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 Raleigh Silver Record, 1951 Armstrong tourmalet, 1970 Motobecane Grand Record, 1971 Raleigh Professional, 1971 Gitane TDF, 1972 Legnano Gran Primio, 1973, Peugeot PX-10, 1975 Roberts, 1984 Battaglin Giro, 1985 Grandis Speciale, 2012 FTW

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